CES - NVidia readies video recording boards

Recordable DVD drives are stirring a new wave of interest in personal video recording on PCs, and NVidia Corp. is ready with a new generation of its Personal Cinema graphics boards, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show last week.

Historically, ATI Technologies Inc. has owned the market for combination graphics board/TV tuners with its line of All-in-Wonder boards, but NVidia is jumping back into the fray. The company is updating its line of Personal Cinema boards, and plans to release models in February priced under US$200. The new boards focus on turning your PC into a PVR and digital media center, with some unique features like Direct-to-DVD video recording. They succeed the tuners NVidia released last year.

Upgraded Specs, Software

NVidia built this second generation of Personal Cinema boards around the GeForce4 MX 440 graphics chip, which supports AGP 8X and comes paired with 64MB of DDR memory.

Support for multiple monitors is built in, with the board housing one DVI connector, a cable connection for the TV tuner, and a breakout box with a standard VGA connector, component and S-Video in and out connections, and analog audio in and out. A multifunction RF remote provides easy access to many of the digital media functions the board provides.

On the software side, NVidia's NVDVD 2 software acts as an integrated digital media player, handling everything from DVD movies to MP3s and AVI and MPEG video.

Personal Cinema's PVR functionality includes a free electronic programming guide, thumbnail previews of what's on each channel, and the capability to pause and rewind live TV. A simultaneous watch and record feature lets you watch a DVD while recording a program in the background.

TV and other video can be burned directly to a DVD or CD in real-time using Ulead Systems Inc.'s DVD MovieFactory 2 software, which will be bundled with the package. And VideoStudio 6, also from Ulead, will be included to handle more extensive video editing chores.

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